Erdoğan’s cleric: Turkey must acquire WMDs to deter West

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) presented an award to Hayrettin Karaman in 2014.

Hayrettin Karaman, a leading theologian and issuer of fatwas, or religious edicts, for ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) circles and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Turkey should acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) including nuclear arms to stand up against the West, SCF reported on Thursday.

“We need to consider producing these [WMDs] rather than purchasing them, without losing any time and with no regard to the words [of caution] and hindrance from the West,” Karaman wrote in a column published in the pro-government Islamist Yeni Şafak daily on Thursday.

According to the report, the cleric claimed the West is interfering in the Islamic world in general and in Turkey in particular through its economic and military powers. He added that the West, including the US, accumulated wealth by exploiting the East, shed blood and destroyed Eastern values.

“Let’s invent [these WMDs], balance [the West] out, but let’s not use weapons of mass destruction unless it is necessary; the way to not resort [to WMDs] is to possess weapons that are equal to or more powerful than the ones the enemy has,” he explained.

Karaman, a well-respected figure among political Islamist groups in Turkey and regarded in high esteem by Turkish President Erdoğan, has been openly campaigning against interfaith dialogue efforts led by US-based Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen.

In February Karaman said the people must help the government in a purge of the faith-based Gülen movement. He also said the mistakes made during government purges must be ignored.

Over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of March 1, 93,248 people were being held without charge, with an additional 46,274 in pre-trial detention.

Karaman said recently that the “no” voters in an April 16 referendum that will switch Turkey to an executive presidency are opponents of Islam.

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